Skip to main content

Repeated fires in already burned-out Vancouver building a 'danger to the neighbourhood:' VFRS

For the third time in two weeks, Vancouver firefighters were called to extinguish a blaze at a vacant apartment building in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood on Wednesday.

The building at 414 E. 10th Ave. was rendered uninhabitable when a fire tore through it at the end of July, displacing dozens of renters. Blue fencing has been put up around the perimeter and entrances have been boarded up, but the fire department says people are still finding a way in.

Chris Gill, acting assistant chief with Vancouver Fire Rescue Service, says crews arrived to find black smoke coming from the back of the building. While there are no concerns about further damage to the building, which has been virtually destroyed already, Gill says the repeated fires are a concern.

"It's a danger to the neighbourhood," he said, adding that responding to any "working fire" also requires significant resources.

Gill says the exact causes of the fires have varied, but attributes them to materials left behind by squatters. The measures in place to deter people from entering the building, he added, have not been effective.

Taylor Calhoun, a former tennant of the fire-ravaged building, says the sound of sirens and sight of fire trucks responding to the place she used to live in have become fairly common.

"It's super frustrating. At this point, we've all accepted that the building's gone, we're not getting back in. It's not so much about the building as it is the safety of surrounding neighbours and the landlord just still refusing to do anything," she told CTV News.

She would like to see private security hired or the building demolished, both things she thinks are the responsibility of the landlord.

In the immediate aftermath of the July 28 fire, tenants raised concerns that not enough had been done to ensure the building's safety.

Fu Ren and Feng Yan, the owners of the three-storey residential building, are currently involved in court proceedings related to allegations they violated 20 separate fire safety regulations last year.

Court documents reveal an inspection that took place on Nov. 17, 2022 highlighted serious concerns.

It alleges the owners failed to maintain the fire alarm system in operable conditions at all times in the lobby area.

The court documents also cited seven different times in which the owners allegedly failed to correct defects and failed to ensure firewalls were not obstructed or blocked, and that exits were blocked or wedged opened. Inspectors raised questions about the working order of fire extinguishers and alleged the owners failed to install some.

The court documents also say inspectors found a blocked exit door in the parkade, piles of combustible waste and a ripped-out power outlet with exposed wires. In addition, the documents say exit signs were not illuminated at all times.

The allegations have not been proven in court. Top Stories

CBC says it is cutting 600 jobs, some programming as it slashes budget

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and Radio-Canada will eliminate about 600 jobs and not fill an additional 200 vacancies. The cuts at CBC come days after the Liberal government suggested it may cap the amount of money CBC and Radio-Canada could get under a $100 million deal Ottawa recently signed with Google.

Stay Connected